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The Twitter Engineering team posted on Wednesday about their experience switching the frontend of Twitter's realtime search from Ruby on Rails to a server written in Java:

Last week, we launched a replacement for our Ruby-on-Rails front-end: a Java server we call Blender. We are pleased to announce that this change has produced a 3x drop in search latencies and will enable us to rapidly iterate on search features in the coming months.


Twitter search is one of the most heavily-trafficked search engines in the world, serving over one billion queries per day. The week before we deployed Blender, the #tsunami in Japan contributed to a significant increase in query load and a related spike in search latencies. Following the launch of Blender, our 95th percentile latencies were reduced by 3x from 800ms to 250ms and CPU load on our front-end servers was cut in half. We now have the capacity to serve 10x the number of requests per machine. This means we can support the same number of requests with fewer servers, reducing our front-end service costs by an order-of-magnitude.


To ensure a high quality of service while introducing Blender into our system, we are using the old Ruby on Rails front-end servers as proxies for routing thrift requests to our Blender cluster. Using the old front-end servers as proxies allows us to provide a consistent user experience while making significant changes to the underlying technology. In the next phase of our deploy, we will eliminate Ruby on Rails entirely, connecting users directly to Blender and potentially reducing latencies even further.